TNT pulls down NLEX as Rice scores triple double

TNT's Glen Rice Jr. soars for a one-handed shot off NLEX's Aaron Fuller in their PBA Governors' Cup game at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City Wednesday night.

MANILA — The TNT KaTropa Texters hardly missed the loss of nine-year veteran Ranidel de Ocampo, pulling down the NLEX Road Warriors, 112-107, in the PBA Governors’ Cup Wednesday night.

On Monday, TNT made a stunning move when it traded De Ocampo to Phoenix for the rights to Norbert Torres and the Fuel Masters’ 2017 first round pick. Phoenix then traded De Ocampo to Meralco for Justin Chua and the Bolts’ first round pick in the coming draft. Phoenix also sent Chua to TNT in exchange for the Texters’ 2019 second round pick.

Even with De Ocampo gone from its roster, TNT still had enough firepower with Glen Rice Jr. leading the team with a triple-double of 25 points, 15 rebounds, and 10 assists along with five blocks. However, the former NBA player committed nine turnovers. That hardly mattered in the end as the Texters improved to a 6-3 win-loss mark, taking fourth place in the standings.

The Road Warriors suffered only their third loss in 10 games, sliding to third place behind the league-leading Ginebra (7-2) and Meralco (6-2).

Kelly Williams led TNT’s locals with 19 points, eight boards, two assists, and two steals. Troy Rosario, who is seen as De Ocampo’s heir apparent at the power forward post, finished with a double-double 17 points and 12 rebounds.

However, it was Jayson Castro who ensured TNT’s victory with a clutch three-pointer in the last few seconds of the game, giving the Texters a 110-106 lead. Castro finished with 13 points, seven assists, five boards, and two steals. Mo Tautuaa and Anthony Semerad added 12 and 10 markers, respectively.

Aaron Fuller led NLEX with 28 points and 18 rebounds. Alex Mallari added 19 markers. Larry Fonacier played his first game against his former team, finishing with 10 points.

Rain or Shine 116,

Phoenix 111

The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters formalized their entry into the PBA Governors’ Cup quarterfinals, beating the Phoenix Fuel Masters, 116-111.

Improving to a 5-3 win-loss card, the Painters are currently in a tie with San Miguel Beer for fifth to sixth place in the standings. Both are still in contention for a top 4 finish that carries with it a twice-to-beat advantage.

The hard-luck Fuel Masters crashed out of the tournament with their eighth straight loss after winning their first two games. Phoenix thus became the second team to get eliminated after the still winless Kia (0-9). The Fuel Masters play their last game next Wednesday against San Miguel Beer.

J’Nathan Bullock powered ROS with a PBA career-high 33 points, including seven three-pointers on 12 attempts. The burly import started red-hot, scoring his team’s first 17 points. He also collected eight boards, four assists, three steals, and one block.

Gilas players Raymond Almazan and Gabe Norwood led the ROS locals, scoring 25 and 17 points, respectively, which were conference-best for both. Almazan also had 11 boards, and two blocks in 30 minutes, while Norwood had six rebounds, three assists, and one steal in 33 minutes of play. Jericho Cruz added 14 markers.

Norwood put an exclamation mark to his fine game with a two-handed followup slam off Almazan's miss, giving ROS a 115-110 lead. Almazan then sealed the win with an offensive board, a split from the line, and a block on Phoenix import Brandon Brown.

The win put to naught the fiery showing of both Matthew Wright and Brown. Wright finished with a team-high 36 while Brown had 33 markers.

Games Friday: Alaska Aces (3-6) vs. Meralco Bolts (6-2) and GlobalPort Batang Pier (3-5) vs. Star Hotshots (4-3).